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Are the Lotto's new operators making it harder to win? Here's what the boss had to say...

Retailers are worried Premier Lotteries Ireland wants to add numbers to draws and jack up prices.

Image: Mac Innes Photography

Updated 9.20

THE HEAD OF the National Lottery’s new licensee faced a two-hour grilling yesterday about the problems which have plagued its systems since it took over operations.

Much of the questioning at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform focussed on the network failure which led to the Lotto draw being cancelled last month for the first time in its 28-year history.

But retailers also took the opportunity to air concerns new operator Premier Lotteries Ireland (PLI) was paying out less money from its takings – and that it was planning other unpopular changes to maximise its profits.

The company paid €405 million for its 20-year licence to run the freshly-privatised National Lottery.

Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association (RGDATA) director-general Tara Buckley told the committee rumours were flowing in the trade that PLI planned to make it harder to win the lottery by adding numbers to the draw.

She also said retailers feared the company would raise ticket prices to boost income.

National Lottery Machines Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

And the winner is…

This was PLI chief executive Dermot Griffin’s response when he was asked for a yes-or-no answer on whether the company was currently looking at the changes:

We will look separately at game development when we have finished our transition programme. There are a load of game development plans that we have in terms of the license.”

Griffin PLI chief executive Dermot Griffin Source: Oireachtas.ie

And this:

We will move to game development once we have finished the transition. In terms of my board, what I have is a strong mandate to implement the transition programme and we will look separately…”

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, who posed the questions, didn’t appear impressed at the vague responses.

Mary Lou Source: Oireachtas.ie

In reply to perceptions the company was paying out less in prizes since it took over, Griffin was also a bit opaque.

He told the committee PLI was required under its licence to pay out at least 50% of its takings in prizes but the actual level returned to punters “was higher than that”.

The company’s licence terms mean it has to give out two-thirds of its income after prizes to “good causes”, with the remainder going towards its operating costs and any balance making up its profits.

The odds of picking all six numbers in the National Lottery correctly in a single, €1.50 play currently stand at over 8 million to one.

Jackpots are divided between the winners across all prize tiers with the approximate amount going to anyone picking all the numbers successfully worth less than half the total.

First published 6.05am

READ: It can happen! Glitch-delayed €10m Lotto draw was won using family birthdays >

READ: Senator warns of need to stop ‘Lotto junkies’ >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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